Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Social Media

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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203. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his plans to raise the rights of content moderators with a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30273/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, I met with content moderators, and their representatives, earlier this year and I followed up directly with the company on whose behalf content moderation work is carried out. I am aware of the genuine concerns of social media content moderators both from meeting directly with them and from their recent presentation to the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Ireland has in place a strong and robust legislative regime to protect all workers in terms of their working conditions, including work-related health and safety, as well as their terms and conditions of employment. The work of a social media moderator involves exposure to potentially harmful material the impact of which is a potential hazard to the worker. It is the employer’s responsibility to identify, control and reduce impact of workplace hazards.

Social media content moderators should be treated by an employer in the same way as any other worker potentially exposed to work related hazards. The employer must carry out a robust risk assessment with a particular focus on the potential hazards arising from work activities and must provide appropriate training. Where a particular hazard is identified that requires subsequent monitoring it must be included in the written Safety Statement, and the relevant worker must be made aware of the hazard and the associated monitoring that is in place.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the independent regulator for workplace safety. I am aware that the HSA is engaging with the Social Media sector to establish and assess the control measures in place to address the risks arising from specific nature of the work of content moderators. The HSA will be able to determine whether further advice or guidance is necessary for employers to ensure compliance with their duties under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

I would also point out that there is provision in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, to ensure that an employer cannot penalise, or threaten to penalise, an employee who makes a complaint or a representation on any matter relating to health and safety at work. Any worker concerned for their health and safety can contact the Health and Safety Authority’s Workplace Contact Unit in confidence at wcu@hsa.ie.

In addition, the services of the Workplace Relations Commission are available to anyone with a concern about their employment rights. In Ireland, we have a full suite of employment rights legislation which protects all workers legally employed on a contract of service basis. The WRC can be contacted at www.workplacerelations.ie.

Separately, I would add that my colleague, Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, is currently advancing a regulatory framework which will deal with on-line safety and which will include the establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner.


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